The much-anticipated YouTube TV app just dropped for Apple TV and Roku and I’ve got a first look at the Apple TV version. I’ve tested every major streaming TV service in the last year and I can tell you without reservation, YouTube TV is poised to be the new king of Streaming TV services. Here’s why:
YouTube TV – Why it Rocks Apple TV
- Compelling value at $35/mo with a good mix of popular news, entertainment and sports channels
- Unlimited DVR storage at no additional cost is game changing and will put significant pressure on competitors (cough cough, directv now)
- Up to 6 user profiles and up to 3 simultaneous streams per account
- Currently over 300 local network affiliates nationwide, second only to Hulu
- Best in class user interface with logical layout and organization of live and recorded content. Incredible effort for a version 1.0 app release
- Usable transport controls for scrubbing live and recorded content (once you know the tricks explained below)
YouTube TV – Room for Improvement
- 10 second scrub clicks need to be enabled when video timeline overlay is active – the Siri remote’s edge click function confusingly changes to play/pause when the timeline appears over live video
- Grid guide default sort order is confusing at first. Sort order appears to be: locals, sports, kids, entertainment, news
- No way to save or filter favorites on the live TV grid guide or adjust the sort order to an alphabetical listing.
- Some overlay screens cannot easily be dismissed while watching live TV without backing out of entire app
- Does not yet have Time Warner content (HBO, CNN, TNN, TNT) or Scripps (HGTV, DIY, Travel Channel, Cooking Channel) or Hallmark (better have that one by Christmas or my wife will revolt!)
YouTube TV Grid Guide
The grid guide is a solid effort. In terms of look and feel, its great and users should find it welcome that their local network channels (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CW, MyTV, etc) are listed first in the guide. There are a few issues: After the listing of local channels there does not appear to be a a logical sort order. There does not appear to be a way to change the default sort or filter the guide in any way.
YouTube TV DVR
The YouTube TV DVR is an excellent value compared to other services – all channels can be recorded and although I’ve only had a short time to test since the release of the app, I’ve found no restrictive permission issues with content playback, advancing through commercials, etc.
YouTube TV Transport Controls
It took me some time to figure out how best to use the the transport controls (for scrubbing through content). If you want to skip ahead or skip back 10 seconds, just click the right or left edge of the Siri remote without activating the pause or onscreen video timeline. If you do the latter, as I have done now for 2 days straight, you will not be able to easily scrub content in an intuitive manner.
The trick to mastering the 10 second jump ahead and back is to simply click the right/left edge of the Siri remote track pad without swiping and without activating the video timeline display. Once a swipe is registered, the edge clicks are deactivated in favor of play/pause, despite the fact there is a play/pause button on the remote!
The engineers will hopefully address this issue soon. The 10 second jump should work the same whether the timeline is onscreen or not. As it currently works, once the video playback timeline is onscreen, the right/left clicks on the Siri remote are deactivated, and the video pause/play takes over. Since the Siri remote has a dedicated play/pause button, but no FF/RW button, the Siri touch pad is reserved for that behavior. However, for some strange reason, the Youtube TV engineers have disabled the edge clicks in favor of play/pause. Once this is fixed, it will be a dramatic improvement in usability.
RELATED > The Remote That Rocks Apple TV
YouTube TV Review – My Early Overall Rating
Now that I’ve had a few days with the app and figured out the trick to the video transport controls, I’d rate the overall app a 4.75 out of 5. Considering that this is the first release of this app on Apple TV, it’s a stellar development effort for the YouTube TV engineers. There are a few rough edges that need to be addressed, but they are minor compared to the things the app does well. The AT&T execs in Dallas and their Hulu counterparts in Santa Monica need to take note, Google has set a high bar with the YouTube TV app.
Bottom line: YouTube TV is poised to battle to become the new champion of the streaming TV services. With just a few minor tweaks to the transport control behavior as indicated above, and some minor usability fixes, its already head and shoulders above the competition in many aspects. The price is extremely affordable and they are rolling out local network affiliates faster than any other service currently. This is streaming TV done right, and right out of the gate.
If you want to give it a shot, you can get YouTube TV for Apple TV, iPhones and Tablets here YouTube TV – Google, Inc.
What do you think? Have you tried Youtube TV on one of the newly supported devices? Share your thoughts in the comments below: